Ignoring my own personal thoughts on gaming, I believe Metal Gear Solid to be the best game i've played. I liked a few games better, which I won't spoil, but MGS simply has it all in my opinion. I can't really find one thing wrong with the game, beyond extremely minor issues, a few major issues being great, but not perfect, or some things I see in hindsight 7 years after the game came out. Of course, i'll be needing to go into detail about all this, now that i've said it.
Metal Gear Solid is of a most interesting genre. It takes place in an overhead, 3rd person view, and combines action and stealth. In fact, at it's time, I believe there was nothing else like it. And even today, only it's sequels seem to have similar gameplay. The game is actually a sequel itself of the NES and SNES Metal Gear Games. As a friend of mine put it a few times, Metal Gear Solid is a fancy way of saying Metal Gear 3D. Once again, you take control of the legendary Solid Snake, about to embark on another mission.
A nuclear storage base on Shadow Moses Island has been taken over by terrorists, and two very important people happen to have been in the base when they did so. These terrorists just so happen to be Snake's old unit, FOXHOUND. So, the terrorists have given 24 hours for there demands to be met, which includes a million dollars and Big Boss's DNA, or else a nuclear weapon will be launched. So, the Colonel calls Snake out of retirement to storm Shadow Moses with no weapons or backup, a codec being his only form of assistance. So he goes in to try and save the pair of VIP's, and disarm the nuclear threat.
It sounds pretty cliche and uninteresting. Generic Terrorist takeover, nuclear threat, soldier is sent in to save the day. Tom Clancy anyone? However, after initial worrying on my part, MGS took off storywise. Your foes, instead of being made up of just regular people with regular guns, all had particularly...special powers. Revolver Ocelot, your first encounter with a villian in the game, showcases some pretty badass sharpshooting skills. Other examples include Psycho Mantis's Psyhic powers, which he uses to avoid your attacks and throw things at you, Sniper Wolf's amazing Sniper abilities, and Vulcan Raven's strength. Some of them could just be regular humans with incredible powers, others are not quite feasible. Either way, it quickly became obvious MGS would not contain just another Tom Clancy-esque plot.
And beyond being special, pretty much every character in MGS gets a crazy amount of plot development. With the exception, perhaps, of the proverb spouting Mei Ling, each character gets his share of screentime, dialogue, and development. How many times have you played a game where the bosses just showed up out of nowhere, fought you and lost, then you completely forgot about them? This doesn't happen in MGS.
Which brings us back to the plot. Like the villians, it's not quite what you might expect. *MINOR SPOILERS* It goes from a generic terrorist plot, to a government hiding the truth plot, to a story of love and hate and family and friends, to a story of fate, genes...I could go on and on. *END MINOR SPOILERS* However, the point is Metal Gear Solid needs a few hours in the disc tray to show it's true colors. The last hour or two is simply insane.
Inbetween the plot and characters, a love-hate aspect of MGS emerges. Lot's of cinematics. Metal Gear Solid is a short game, takes about 10 hours to beat first time through, maybe. I'd say at least 2-3 hours of that is cutscene watching. Some people may not care so much for this, others may not mind, and some may even enjoy the movie-like experience.
Now, more on the gameplay of MGS, which we've already established as innovative. You start off with no weapons, very little health, and almost no supplies. This will change soon enough, but moreso with supplies then weapons. You'll be given plenty of tricks to get past the enemy, rather than blow past them. You can knock on walls to attract attention, sneak up behind guards and grab them, lead them around boxes and run while they're on the other side, and several other little stunts. So, you'll go through Shadow Moses as quietly as possible, until you get to the many bossfights of MGS. Much like Super Metroid, MGS relies heavily on some amazing bossfights. Be it dueling with Ocelot, Sniping with Wolf, or being hunted by Vulcan Raven...and reversing the roles, Metal Gear Solid has some memorable fights.
Now, the technical things in MGS need to be touched on, because they're just that damn good. The gameplay graphics may be the best, and if not at least one of the best, on the Playstation. It's not truly pretty anymore, but it was, and if you want to go through PS1 games it's the best your getting.
The sound elements are also fantasic. I've never heard Voice-Acting so...not only well acted, but good sounding in the 32-64 bit era. There's emotion, no akward pauses, and not many half-assed lines. The soundtrack will also keep anyone who pays attention to such things happy. It fits the mood and kicks ass.
So, as I said before, MGS is probably the best game i've played. It has innovative, fun gameplay, a deep, twisting storyline that just feels too damn good for a video game, character development everywhere, great graphics and sound, replayability if you care to try and get good rankings, and...well just about everything there is. If I had to pick it apart and find things wrong with it...
Well, replayability is a little lacking. There are some VR missions you can try to get the best time in, and rankings you get at the end of every completed game you can try to improve on. But if just playing games over and over again isn't your thing, you may throw MGS on the shelf after a 10 hour runthrough. And, as I said, the game may prove too cinematic for some, though a certain sequel makes it look perfectly fine. >_>
The biggest flaw I can find with MGS is in hindsight, so it's not really fair to complain about it. Simply enough, MGS falls short of the technical accomplishments we saw in MGS2 and MGS3. By alot. MGS can feel downright stiff and annoying after MGS2 and MGS3. Obviously, this isn't the games fault, but today if you play it...you're surely notice it.
And that's about it for MGS. I could go on about the storyline for days, but I'll leave it up to you to go get it and experience it yourself. MGS has a minor flaw here and there, but comes very close to perfection, and is probably the best game I have played to date. If that doesn't get you wanting to make a trip to the game store, I don't know what will.